Dash4Dosh – day 18 – Esbjerg to Belfast

Starting Location: Esbjerg

Ending Location: Belfast

Total Distance Traveled (including this day): 7331km 

Bike Comfort Factor (1-10) :3

“Tired” Factor (1-10) :8

 

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And so we began our final day.  Arriving at Harwich at 1pm, we rode reasonably fresh back to Cambridge, where we said goodbye to another member.  Chris Harris was almost home, so we parted where we met, and only Roy and I were left.

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My original plan was to ride to Wales, to meet the Dander4dosh gang, but I was reconsidering.  Having been away from home for over 2 weeks combined with some awful weather predictions for the next day, the idea of “getting home” was getting serious consideration.  There was an 11pm ferry from Cairnryan, Scotland to Belfast.  By recent measures, it was a long ride, but reachable.  Of course, I forgot I was now in the UK.  Roy and I headed northwest through UK friday motorway traffic.  It was hell.  For the first time, I put on my high-vis jacket as a precaution.  Hours of filtering traffic on bad roads with shitty drivers.  My 11pm  ferry was starting to seem less and less likely.  Roy and I parted near Preston and then I was solo.

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Roy headed home.  I still had 4 hours to go!  After getting past Preston the traffic opened up a bit, and so did the throttle.  Reaching some “progressive” speeds I made it to Dumfries, to roadworks and diversions.  More delays.  The last 100km were a trudge before making the 11pm ferry with 30 minutes to go.

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After boarding, I promptly blacked out on the boat for 60 minutes, the woke and waited.  At 2.30am, we pulled into Belfast port and I had one more trip to do.

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 About 20km home.  At 3am I pulled into the house, got off the saddle and took one last picture.   The last day was the worst part of a most excellent trip.  About 900km of crap traffic in one day.

Adventure over.

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Dash4Dosh – day 17 – Stavanger to Esbjerg

Starting Location: Hirtshals (off the ferry from Stavanger)

Ending Location: Esbjerg

Total Distance Traveled (including this day): 6450km  (est)

Bike Comfort Factor (1-10) :4

“Tired” Factor (1-10) :3

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Day 17 brought us to the ferry port of Esbjerg after the Fjordline ferry’s newest ship steamed in on time.  We traveled with the MC club south and as we had some hours to kill, decided to tag along to their meetup in a camp site for motorbikes only near Nodager.  As ever, we met fantastic people on bikes, trikes, cruisers, rockets and pretty-much-everything-but-cars.  After staying for a while, we said our goodbyes and headed south.    At this point, the clouds started to darken.  While riding along we were greeted with thunder and lightening, followed by a monumental downpour.  It was slow lane time and we proceeded at crawl pace, while many cars just pulled in.  I was leading but eventually hit the “screwit” point and pulled into a service station.  There was no point in riding in this.  After a burger meal the rain lightened, but we were at the point where we would lose another member.  Gregg had to turn east to ride back to meet Vadimir, and start his journey home.  We said our goodbyes and were then back to the original three.

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Heading west, it took us 2 hours to get back to Esbjerg, where we had to wait, damp, for a couple of hours to board, then started our long trip home.

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Dash4Dosh – day 16 – Skudeneshavn to Stavanger

Starting Location: Skudeneshavn

Ending Location: Stavanger

Total Distance Traveled (including this day): 6112km 

Bike Comfort Factor (1-10) :8

“Tired” Factor (1-10) :2

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Today was actually, for the first time, a “rest day”.  We woke up and *walked* to Arvid and Liv’s house, where we were treated to a lovely breakfast, followed by doing the tourist thing in the beautiful town of  Skudeneshavn.  First, Arvid drove us to his Motorcycle Club lockup.  A fantastic playground where all the members shared equipment and could come and go as they pleased, along with a meeting night every week.   To me, this idea of a bike club worked better than the ones that meet every week to simply go on rideouts.  They had a few bikes in the middle of work.

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They were also good enough to try to raise money on our behalf.  The poster was on the wall, which was perfect for a “thank you” photo after we all signed it.

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After leaving the club, we headed into the town, which was both stunning, touristy and “local”.  People lived, worked and played there.  A stunning town, not ruined by business, tourism or pollution.  While walking through, we stopped in a fantastic little coffee shop, served by an elderly famous man that has been there many years.  Coffee and waffles.. order that or water :)

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A lazy stroll to the harbour park looking out over the coastline.

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Of course, some sillyness followed.

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Of course, after all of this we had to head back and get ready for our ride to the ferry.  Most of the MC club were heading to Denmark for a meetup with other riders, but sadly we had to say goodbye to Arvid who couldn’t make it.  The rest of them escorted us back to Stavanger and onto the first overnight ferry home.

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You can still donate to Dash4Dosh.  Just go here and throw some money at it.  Alternatively like it’s facebook page if you can.  It all helps a good cause.

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Dash4Dosh – day 15 – Giljastølen to Skudeneshavn

Starting Location: Giljastølen

Ending Location: Skudeneshavn

Total Distance Traveled (including this day): 6015km 

Bike Comfort Factor (1-10) :6

“Tired” Factor (1-10) :5

 

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Day 15 started with animal noises echoing throughout the cabin.    We walked outside to see and hear sheep ambling past us with bells tied around their necks.  One of the sheep looked like she was doing the walk of shame.  Gregg looked happy.  I decided not to query this situation.  Our trip today would take us to the southwest coast and the holiday town of Skudeneshavn (Arvid’s home town).     But before that, there was a serious ace up the sleeve of Norway.  Lysebotn.

The Fjord of Lysebotn lies to the north east of us.  The plan originally was to ride to the edge of the Fjord and take the ferry to Forsand.  Unfortunately (or actually fortunately!) they ferry was full.  So.. “ride there and ride back” was the solution.  This meant we were passing by the holiday home en route to our next destination, so we decided to go naked.

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Heading NorthEast we headed up toward Sirdal and then north and northwest on FV986 “narrow” road up the mountains.  Back over the snow line it got cold quick.  For all of us, after riding with all that weight for 2 weeks, the bikes felt, well .. weird.  I had to relearn my bike that I was so comfortable with because I wasn’t punishing it with all the gear.

At the very top of the mountain pass, we stopped to take photos and build our own little stone mounds.

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Moving onwards, we headed  down the side of the mountain pass to get to the famous bit of the road.  Arvid instructed us to stop at the cafe at the top of the Fjord so we could take photos before taking the route down to the waterline.  Roy was in front and didn’t see the cafe so continued to plummet downwards.  Arvid followed him.  Gregg, Chris and I stopped to wait.  Some funniness ensued.

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This was the view from the top of the fjord to the bottom.  I stole the picture from dangerousroads.org ‘s review of the route

When we left the cafe, I asked Tom Tom on my iPhone what was ahead.  It positively puked.

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In under 15 minutes of mind numbing hairpin bends, we were at the bottom.  Not only were there hairpin bends, but there were also tunnels with hairpin fucking bends.  A slightly buttock clenching moment when having to slam on in a dark tunnel because you need to do a very tight left.  We got to the bottom and took a photo of the cafe at the top where we were a few minutes before. (look up and to the left).  And yes, that is a waterfall going all the way down.

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Insert obligatory stunning Fjord photo here…. really.

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It was time to head back the way we came, so we go to do the road again, except uphill!  Arvid and Roy went ahead while Gregg, Chris and I followed.  Getting stuck behind German campervans on the narrow passes did not help.  Also oncoming German cars on narrow roads that took that secret middle lane left me inches from a wing mirror at one point (Apologies to all Germans including my friends from Germany.  I love you all, but there was a common theme in Norway to do with inconsiderate driving.  Sorry).  We got back to the camp site at about 4pm and now packed up the panniers and started the trip through Stavanger to Skudenshavn.  It was very warm and the clouds were dark.  This did not bode well for us.  After 20 minutes the sky unleashed a downpour combination of heavy rain, thunder, lightening and hailstones.  At this point, some fairly obvious elephants on my bike were becoming an issue.

1. – My rear tyre was bald.

2. – My boots were falling apart.  After many years of service, this trip, including the constant changes in the weather (extremes of heat followed by cold/snow) were the last straws.  Don’t believe me?

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3. – My RST all weather gear was no longer all weather.  After 5 years of service, the trousers were split on the inside and water was pouring in and down to my boots.

After the rain stopped, we all pulled in and decided now was a good time to put on our rain covers (after the horse had bolted!).   We put on the gear and then headed through Stavanger.   Which, on a normal day is fine.  After this trip it was so alien to be riding in heavy traffic through a city.  We hadn’t done it in thousands of miles.  And the weather did not help.  We muddled through and made the ferrybus from Mortivika to Arsvagen.  Arvid was hilarious on this ferry.  Simply put, we were to ignore any directions and ride to the front of the ferry and put our wheels against the ramp.  This meant that we couldn’t reverse and we were at the front.  It worked.  We bolted out the other side and rode on.   For about 15 minutes following Arvid we headed along a dual carriageway until I saw some commotion behind me.  We pulled in to realise that Chris didn’t have time to put on his wet gloves and was riding for 15 minutes bare handed.  Uncomfortable and dangerous.  Most of us hadn’t noticed and the poor lad’s hands were blue.  Unfortunately because we pulled in we had lost Arvid.  So, enter sat-nav mode in the rain.  I headed towards a Statoil in Arvid’s town.   This brought us through a monster tunnel (21km).  This, in itself is amazing.  The batshit insane part of this was the roundabout in the tunnel.  Yes… a roundabout in the tunnel.  Not a small one.  A full sized dual carriageway roundabout.  The video recording on my sportsvue actually picked me up saying “who puts a roundabout in a tunnel while laughing manically”.    Anyways, I digress.  We made it to the Garage, called Arvid and he guided us to his friend’s house.  Hans is part of the local Skudeneshavn motorcycle club and insisted we all stayed in a house that he owned that was vacant.  We parked up and then Arvid invited us to dinner his house, where we met the lovely Liv (his partner).  They fed us food and beer, and we walked back to our place.  A great, welcoming night was had by all.   Chris and I took a room.  Gregg and Roy the other.  Sleep came very quick.

You can still donate to Dash4Dosh.  Just go here and throw some money at it.  Alternatively like it’s facebook page if you can.  It all helps a good cause.

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Dash4Dosh – day 14 – Rollag to Giljastølen

Starting Location: Rollag

Ending Location: Giljastølen

Total Distance Traveled (including this day): 5670km 

Bike Comfort Factor (1-10) :7

“Tired” Factor (1-10) :3

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It is amazing what a good night’s sleep can do!  We work about 8am and as Arvid and I were speaking a super-chirpy and happy/clean Gregg Eldred danced his merry way down to us saying how wonderful life is.  Yup, he slept.  The day before, he was, em… less happy.

The objective this day was to get to Arvid’s holiday home in Giljastølen.  We were to camp there for the night before heading onwards to his home town.  A quick coffee and a shower later and the world was good.  Everyone packed up and we headed on the long route to the Norwegian Industrial Workers Museum in Tinn, near Rjukan.  We headed south east on the 40 and turned west near Rosoya.  The road got more twisty but everyone was fresh, so we all upped the game and the pace.    The sun was shining but it was cooler than the day before so it was a nice day to ride.

We stopped just outside Tinn at a workshop.  It was lined with American trucks with waterfalls to one side and mountains in the distance.  Stunning to us but for the guys working there, just another day.

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Onwards we progressed, moving up the narrow Fjord until we go to the museum.     We parked our bikes and started the 1km uphill walk in our gear to the entrance.  Stunning views, but hot hot hot.

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Although an excellent museum in itself and with a history of being one of the largest Hydro Electric power plants of its time, the World War 2 history is what makes this place special.  This is the site of the Nazi heavy water plant which had to be sabotaged in the war.  Click here  and here for the details.    You treat a place like this with reverence.   When we walked into the main entrance Gregg eschewed that reverence by asking the reception lady a question that will stay with me forever.

“Mam is this one of those museums where I have to keep my pants on?”  Obviously Gregg was a tad hot and figured it couldn’t hurt to ask.  In fairness the lady looked like she had never been asked that question before so I guess we made her day.  Quick lunch and then an hour walking around the museum.

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Fascinating place in a stunning destination.  But we were eating into the day and had a long way to go, so onwards heading soutwest still on the 37, then turning onto the 45 at Dalen and south to Rysstad.  Arvid promised us one more winter.  Boy did he stick to it.  We came off the main road onto the FV337 mountain pass to  Tjørhom.  This road got very narrow and we came across more frozen lakes, damns and 2 metre high snow drifts.   Just a few photos, but it was cold, but stunning.   Walking through the snow here was when I started to realise that my boots were in bad shape (more on that at the end of the trip).

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We got back onto the 45 and rode along a stunning Fjord all the way to Dirdal.  We would be retracing that route the following day, so no need to stop for pictures.  We came off that road and rode uphill to the holiday cabin.  Surrounded by sheep, I started to realise that my exhausts were way too loud for trying to see wildlife.  I keep the revs low all the way up.  Passing by sheep and lambs is ok, but if you see a lamb on its own, be very careful because he will bolt in any direction.

We made it to the holiday home where Arvid seemed to make a meal from a combination of rice, Pringles, pasta in sauce and bread.  We have no idea how.  Gregg and Roy got the spare room.  Chris and I tossed a coin for couch or floor.  Chris lost.  I was happy with that outcome.  Its a sorry state of affairs when I am amazed that I have a couch to sleep on!  Bed by 11pm.

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You can still donate to Dash4Dosh.  Just go here and throw some money at it.  Alternatively like it’s facebook page if you can.  It all helps a good cause.

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Dash4Dosh – day 13 – Flåm to Rollag

Starting Location: Flåm

Ending Location: Rollag

Total Distance Traveled (including this day): 5250km 

Bike Comfort Factor (1-10) :6

“Tired” Factor (1-10) :6

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After the previous day, it was a slow start to the morning.  Everyone slept until 8.30 (give or take) and we all emerged from our respective tents a bit slower than usual (Except for Arvid, whom I decided was a machine at this stage).   Gregg had shared a tent with Chris again.  You could tell by looking at Chris.  Although they are both great guys and the “bromance” was obvious for all to see, I think a little bit of Chris wanted to kill Gregg that morning.  2 weeks of traveling was starting to catch up.  This was our second rest day.  Nobody was interested in staying put but the plans for this day were “less mileage, more pleasure” just for once.  So, amazingly before packing up, we walked off to get breakfast.  There was a tourist area near our campsite, as ferries docked nearby.  Plenty of shops and restaurants, along with a view that I could not take for granted.

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In we went for an actual “sit down” brekkie!.  I had to take a photo of the sign that pretty much summed up internet access on our trip so far.

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During the planning calls we had in advance of the trip, we all found links and advice from other people that “internet access is everywhere”.  The impression we all had is you couldn’t be without internet access as we went along even if you tried.

Rubbish.  The vast majority of internet access points were not working or useless.   Next time, bring a MiFi.  As we ate, plans were made for the day.   An option was Lillehammer.   It was a fair distance away, but aside from the Olympic history and the TV show, there was no real draw for any of us.  Another option was to head down towards Rjukan and visit a museum either this day or the next, depending on pace.  More on that in the next post.

We left Flam about 11am and headed southeast on the 50 past stunning inlets, lakes and mountain passes.  There was another Stave Church in Sundrevegan that Gregg wanted to see, so we detoured a tad to try to take it in.  It was *very* hot this day.  People were grumpy and tired and there were different opinions on the pace of the day.  When we got to Sundrevegan, we simply couldn’t find the church.  We found “a” church but that wasn’t it.  Gregg threw in the towel and we agreed to press on.  Doubling back on our route, we got back to a mountain pass that would take us to Rjuken.  The start was fine, but then we got to completely unpaved roads.  Meeting a car coming the other way, they said it was at least 10km of rubble road that was half way through re-construction.  We had ridden rough roads already, but we were tired and with the weight of the bikes, and the loose gravel terrain for 10km, we decided to head back and go the long way.

The long way proved to be another 3 hours according to sat nav.  We stopped for fuel.  It was 5pm and people were exhausted.  Plans changed.  Buying up food, we decided on “next camp site” on the route.  After 20 minutes Arvid spotted one in Rollag (he had actually stayed there before) and we camped up.  Gregg, Roy and Chris decided on taking a cabin.  It wasn’t cheap, but they wanted the rest.   Arvid and I stuck with tents.

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This was an odd evening.  I remember when planning routes with Sean the “sort of” objective was to be finished and off bikes by 6pm every evening.  This hadn’t really happened yet.  Now it was 6pm.  We were at the site and had to figure out what to do.  Some folks did laundry, some cooking.  I was charging and backing up stuff for folks.  Roy washed his bike.  Chris re-packed his panniers.  We ate overlooking a river on the balcony that came with the cabin.  Stunning view only slightly ruined by washed underwear hanging out of anything and everything visible.

Everyone was exhausted.  At 9pm I called it a night.  Went to my tent and tried to get an early one.

You can still donate to Dash4Dosh.  Just go here and throw some money at it.  Alternatively like it’s facebook page if you can.  It all helps a good cause.

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Dash4Dosh – day 12 – Åndalsnes to Flåm

Starting Location: Åndalsnes

Ending Location: Flåm

Total Distance Traveled (including this day): 4963km 

Bike Comfort Factor (1-10) :4

“Tired” Factor (1-10) :8

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In every trip there is at least one thing that stands out.  If you are lucky there are a few.  In our trip, there were lots.  Most of them happened this day.  In short, consider this day a biker’s dream.

We woke up later than usual (about 9am).  At this point I hinted that the bike will be inserted into Gregg after the tent poles for keeping us awake last night.  Roy was good enough to get us coins for the showers.  You need 10Krone coins.  These get you 2 minutes of hot running water.  Of course I thought the clock would start when you started the tap.

I was wrong.  Insert coin, see countdown starting, curse and try to get undressed and into the shower.  Wash quickly.  You know the time has run out when the water turns polar ice cold. Lovely.

After the “shower” we packed up and headed on our first trip of the day.  There was a MC club meet (Motorcycle Club) near the Troll pass.  We decided to pay a visit.  As ever, we were made feel most welcome.  This is a bunch of folks you would typically want to cross the street to avoid.  10am and drinking.  Loud, obnoxious etc.     Arvid told them what we were doing, they wouldn’t take any money to enter and gave us patches/stickers and made us feel most welcome.  We wandered around looking at bikes, scenery, trikes, scenery, and just simply scenery.  Apparently when the MC club leaves, you would barely know they were there.  

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We wandered around the hundreds of bikes of various ages and shapes and sizes.  But then, out of all things, Gregg’s dream was fulfilled by seeing his dream vehicle.

A fucking ford mondeo.

Gregg had been on a “Top Gear” hunt since getting to Europe.  Being a huge fan on the TV show, he was trying to see the cars that appear in it all the time which are not available in the USA.  A mondeo was top of the list. I spotted one and had the camera ready when pointing it out.  Folks, this is a very happy Gregg (although somewhat disappointed when he saw the car for what is was, which I found most entertaining).

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Then, it was time to leave.  And on we went to the Troll Pass.  An infamous road at the best of times.   A narrow road rising up a mountain, hairpin bends with waterfalls to one side and sheer drops on the other.  Not to mention also caravans, cars and every other type of tourist going up and down it.  Was it twisty?  Well, this was the view from Tom Tom.

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The reality is that from a biker perspective, it was a *very* slow road due to the traffic and sheer narrowness of the turns.  We went slow and simply enjoyed the views, even stopping half way up to take photos.

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 At the top, there is a tourist shop, so we bought our tat and made a plan of where next to go.    We *could* do the same road back down, but Arvid suggested we try heading over the mountain and south via Geiranger.  So we stayed high on the mountain and headed southeast to the fjord.  We got to the edge of the Fjord about 30 minutes later and could look down and see the inlet.  Note the cruise ship.

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To get around the fjord, you follow the road, downhill.  It was perfect biking architecture.  Dry, empty and very very twisty but wide enough to take at a good pace.  A panic filled screamfest of fun few minutes later and we were at ground level and stopping to empty our boots…  The town is very touristy, so we ploughed on to the next place to eat.  This took us back up the mountain along the fjord and back into snow (I swear we were in and out of the snow line 6 times this day) and eventually at this random restaurant in the snow, miles from everywhere.  Obviously built for tour buses, it was empty so we ate.   Afterwards heading southwest along the 55 until we got to Lom.  Noted for one of the last remaining Stave Churches, we took some pictures.

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It was approaching 5pm already.  It had been a long day, but Arvid had a few more boxes to tick.  Roy was bored with the pace into Lom (there was traffic and many of us were in group riding mode) so he and Arvid went ahead to the next meetup.  We agreed to go on  the 55 to the Turtagro hotel and meet there.  The 55 at this point is not the best road in the world, with unpaved parts and monumental twists.   Gregg and Chris were getting faster and faster so we upped our game to a few shards below “nutter” mode.  By the time we met Arvid and Roy, they could hear us long before seeing us (The benefit of never going higher than 3rd gear).  Taking a short break, comments like “I think I pee’d myself” and “we’re alive!” were liberally added to the manic laughter and nerves.  Excellent!.

 But of course, it wasn’t ending there.  Arvid had another trick up his sleve.  The quickest way to Flåm was by leaving the 55 and riding the Tindevegen Road (“peak road”).  You know when Arvid is warning about the road, that it’s’ gonna get interesting.  This is a private road over the mountain range, therefore has no obligation for safety signs, lights or typical road-warnings.    All there is is snow poles on either side of this anorexic twist lane.  And you get to pay for the honour of doing this, half way at the top of the snowy mountain pass.

They went ahead, we followed.    You *need* to be awake on this road, on a pushbike, car or motorbike.  It is smooth(ish), fast, bendy and almost empty.  The pace was brilliant.  The scenery is stunning.   At the half way point, Arvid was there to make sure that our credit cards were ok on the toll bridge (automated because *nobody* is around).

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 It was freezing. We were sweating.    The second half bit was downhill, but apparently much narrower and shorter.  Arvid and Roy went on, but then Gregg moved ahead of me to take lead.  What followed was about 20 minutes of  hairpin, 180 degree turns downhill with Gregg in front, me about 2 metres behind him and Chris behind me.    There was no time for  Gregg to check mirrors, but apparently all he could hear was my IXIL exhaust crawling up his arse.  An American had discovered corners!  We got down the bottom just behind Arvid and Roy with a combination of exhilaration, wild joy and the desire to be the Pope and kiss the tarmac.  Gregg’s GoPro was on for the trip, so when I get time I will publish a video.  It was already 9pm.  We had another 120 KM to go to Flåm so we set off.

Again, we kept the straight line pace very fast.  Averaging 80mph or higher (even in a 18km long tunnel).  Chris was doing 100Mph overtakes in a tunnel on a bend. Hilarious!   We made it to a camp site for 10pm.  No cabins, so tent setup time began.  We got setup, apologised to our bikes for the day (my tyres were starting to look a tad old) and 4 of us headed to a local micro-brewery for  beers.  Gregg and Arvid are big beer fans.  Chris doesn’t drink much but makes us laugh.  I had two pints of beer and felt shitfaced.  Time for bed.  Collapsed by midnight after one hell of a day.

You can still donate to Dash4Dosh.  Just go here and throw some money at it.  Alternatively like it’s facebook page if you can.  It all helps a good cause.

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Dash4Dosh – day 11 – Hell to Åndalsnes

Starting Location: Hell

Ending Location: Åndalsnes

Total Distance Traveled (including this day): 4470km approx

Bike Comfort Factor (1-10) :7

“Tired” Factor (1-10) :4

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Day 11 started early.  Chris and I rode back to the “Hell” garage to try to find postcards “from hell”.  I had promised a number of sponsors postcards.  It is amazing the see the difference between Norway and say… most of the rest of the 1st world.  In other places this would have been a theme park!.  Here, we found one rack selling limited postcards in a garage and that was it.

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So, we bought a load of postcards and stamds, rode back to the campsite (Roy and Chris had a cabin again) and got ourselves ready to head on for the day.  Now Arvid was going to be our guide.   He  wanted to get to know his new (and stunning) VFR.  He took a look at my tyres and mentioned about the obvious motorway “wear and tear”.  ”We need to get some corners into them” he hinted.  So, corners it would be.

We started on the E6, heading southwest for about 30 minutes, then turned off to a pass that Arvid knew.  The next 60 minutes were a blur of speed and twisties, hair pin bends and narrow roads.  Roy could now progress at the pace he wanted with Arvid and I stuck between that group and the Chris/Gregg couple at the rear.

Now for a slightly sycophantic moment with regards to bike riding.  I can watch a good bike rider all day.  Its not about speed (it rarely is).  It is about control, pace in bends, position, awareness and grace.  There are people I can watch all day riding bikes.  My brother and Sean Cull are just two that spring to mind.  Arvid joined that group instantly.    I don’t even pretend to have that pace, nor do I want to try  all the time.  My chops, so to speak have gone up over the past few years, but this was a different class.   Additionally, Arvid didn’t like to ride for hours.  He puts 60 minutes of “no straight lines” riding in, then pulls in and has coffee.  No 3 hour slogs which was a very welcome relief.    This made things a lot easier for Gregg (naked bike) and Chris (not great over 70mph bike) and slowly over the next few days, their pace on B-roads steadily improved.  Everyone in the group took criticism and encouragement well with relation to skills.  The different styles were apparent, but all riders were of a good standard.

The second half of the day was something special.    We headed west to the coast and rode the Atlantic Road pass in Norway.  *This* is amazing.  The Norwegians had taken their “we don’t do straight roads” and applied it to bridges alongside rises and dips that felt like you were on a rollercoaster.  There we stopped again for coffee and quite a lot of photos.

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Even this road was new for Arvid.  The scenery around felt very “Atlantic”.  Just like west coast of Ireland or Scotland.  As we could see throughout the day, the difference in the landscape by heading a further south was more apparent.  Onwards south with one quick ferry to bypass Langfjorden Fjord  and then southeast to Åndalsnes.  At this point, we were very near  Trollstigen, but it was getting late, so time to find a place to camp.  First stop was a shop to buy food for the night.  Although Gregg had not noticed yet, his bike picked up some adornments.  Payback, as they say, is a bitch.  Luckily they did not stock toilet brushes as that was next on the list.

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We were told about a motorcycle club meetup happening nearby, so decided to pay a visit the next morning.  This was the view from the campsite.  Seriously, photos (especially ones taken by me) do not do it justice.

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There were no cabins available, so Roy and Gregg had to camp.  Gregg again bunked in with Chris (he was dumb enough to bring a 3-man tent!)  We ate, had one beer each and then retired.  I was not in my sleeping bag more than 5 minutes before that lullaby of snoring by the American began, followed by mutterings of bad language from Chris.  Arvid hinted that the next day would be something special.  He was right.

You can still donate to Dash4Dosh.  Just go here and throw some money at it.  Alternatively like it’s facebook page if you can.  It all helps a good cause.

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Dash4Dosh – day 10 – Finneidfjord to Hell

Starting Location: Finneidfjord

Ending Location: Hell

Total Distance Traveled (including this day): 4100km approx

Bike Comfort Factor (1-10) :7

“Tired” Factor (1-10) :3

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The next morning, we were ready to go from 9am.  Arvid Nornes and I had been in touch and we agreed to meet in Hell that evening, where he would take over as guide (more on that in upcoming posts).  By my reckoning we would get to hell at 6pm.  A few niggles were appearing on bikes.  Roy’s GS had a bent sidestand which was causing him issues parking the bike.  Chris’ F650 was rattling like “Apollo re-entry” over 70mph.  My VFR was just fine.  The scotoiler reserve tank wasn’t operating correctly, but it was not an issue.  Gregg was offering $500 to swap bike from his “rental” to ANY other bike for a day.  Unsurprisingly nobody was interested in riding a naked Kawasaki ER6F for a full day.  Off we went.

Our first filling post was the Statoil in Mosjoen.  And it was special.  As you go on these trips, you get used to “basic” hygiene and garage toilets are usually the perfect example of “what you are willing to put up with”.  We all noticed that toilet conditions in the garages in Scandinavia were way superior to at home.  But this one took the biscuit.   We took turns going to it!  Newspapers, pictures on the walls of the Royal family, towels and scented candles.  It was epic.  I wanted to move in.  It required a panoramic picture!

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Oddly, my bike started to acquire some decorative pieces.  For example a scented tree.  Mr. Eldred looked guilty.

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We ploughed on and by 6pm Sat Nav was guiding me to Hell.  I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I kinda guessed a town with some shops/restaurants.  Not American “theme park” style, but something.  Sat Nav told me we were there.

We were at a garage.  Garage wifi proved it.  We were in Hell.

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 There *had* to be more to it than this.   We circled around and eventually found Hell train station.  We asked the staff, and the train station was “it”.  So photo time.

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Soon after Chris took some (excellent) photos, the most cool and excellent Norwegian, Arvid Normes arrived to be our guide for the rest of the Norway leg of the trip.

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He had ridden for 1 1/2 days to join us, so we headed for the nearest campsite.  Arvid brought a mini BBQ so our diets instantly improved.  Gregg was the token American BBQ guy so he cooked up hotdogs and chicken.  Chris made tea.  We pitched our tents, had a chat and made plans for the next few days.

You can still donate to Dash4Dosh.  Just go here and throw some money at it.  Alternatively like it’s facebook page if you can.  It all helps a good cause.

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Dash4Dosh – day 9 – Moskenes to Finneidfjord

Starting Location: Moskenes

Ending Location: Finneidfjord (just south of Mo i Rana)

Total Distance Traveled (including this day): 3721km 

Bike Comfort Factor (1-10) :4

“Tired” Factor (1-10) :6

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My alarm went off at 5.30am.  There was no need.  We had an alarm.  It was Gregg Eldred.  Chris looked like he had slept beside an industrial scale fog horn.  I told Gregg if he did the same the upcoming evening I would put my tent poles in him (not a euphemism). This was seconded by everyone.  Packed the tents and rode the 500 metres to the Moskenes – Bodo Ferry.

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The 4 hour ferry was a chance to sleep.  This was interrupted by having to charge everything we owned and then backing up all the videos/pictures people have taken onto my Mac.  Then, we also actually had internet access.  Crappy internet access, but internet access nonetheless.  Gregg and Chris went outdoors to take photos, Roy slept and I did backups/charging duty.  My chair was surrounded by a mass of cables.  I tried getting using the broadband connection however it reminded me of the joke that the one thing worse than no internet access is really shitty internet access.  Before I knew it, 2 hours of the trip had gone.  The views were stunning but not worth staying awake.  This was a 4 hour trip though, so I had factored in at least 1 hour shuteye.  Gregg was out cold on one row of chairs, Roy on the other, Chris was editing pictures.  After 3 hours I closed everything and decided I needed some sleep.  just as I was dosing off I noticed land nearby, then a city, then a harbour.

The 4 hour ferry ride was 3 hours.  I had just borked any chance of sleep.  Enter panic mode.  I hastily packed up everything which never suits me (I like to plan).  Chris went to wake up Gregg. Gregg didn’t take it well.

Chris “Gregg.. wake up…we have to get off”

Gregg (bolts upright) “WHAT?  WHY?  NO!”.

I think he was about to cry.  I was about to join him.

Down to the bikes and we were the last off.  And didn’t I just fecking forget to pick up my battery pack for my heated vest.  Dammit.  We headed south down the E6.  As we rode (south for the fist time in what seemed like ages) we started to head uphill back into the snow.  The area was barren with almost no traffic.  By about lunchtime we made it to the Arctic circle centre (and line) again in Saltfjellet.  It was time for photos, lunch and buying tat.  The arctic circle centre in Norway is a building in the middle of nowhere.  Just off a main road, it has a restaurant and shop.  Tastefully done with a few tourists and bikers.  Not as barren and old fashioned as the Swedish one (I preferred the Swedish) but it felt like we had hit our goal at this point.

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This photo raised money for the charity (£5 per height joke/insult).IMG_1635 IMG_1633 IMG_1630

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Chris and I had promised photos for sponsors, so after that and the food it was 3pm.  We were already a day ahead of schedule, but had planned to try to make it even more ahead of schedule by heading further south.  But by this stage, after some map reading, common sense prevailed.  We decided to head a couple more hours south to Mo I Rana and call it a day.  Riding south and back to ground level it started to get hot again.  Passing Mo I Rana I found a campsite near Finneidfjord, called Bjerka camping.   The owner laughed when I asked if they had space.  The place was almost deserted.  Summer season has not started yet.  Gregg and Roy went for a cabin and Chris and I elected for cheaper tent-space.  We joked with the owner for a while (a great bloke and I am sorry to say I lost his name).  Obviously taking pity on us he gave Chris and I a cabin for the price of the tents.  We were not going to pass that up.

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Dinner options were limited as you can see.  Chris, Gregg and I ate the food and had a beer whilst trying in vain to use the camping wifi.

IMG_1652Roy… well, Roy performed his nightly ritual!  Our bikes were simply embarrassing compared to his sparkling GS.

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The owner came back over to us and talked bikes.  He was more a snowmobile guy and may or may not have shown us videos of “progressing” over mountains after purchasing items in a *cough* nearby *cough* country with friends.  Certain items are substantially cheaper in Sweden to Norway.  We all crashed by 10pm.  Next stop.  Hell baby yeah!

You can still donate to Dash4Dosh.  Just go here and throw some money at it.  Alternatively like it’s facebook page if you can.  It all helps a good cause.

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